Shopping with little kids is no easy feat, and when Tracy Bennett arrived at Costco on September 27 with her sons, Elliot, 2, and Isaac, 7 months, she discovered another hurdle: She lost her membership card.
So Bennett hopped in the customer service line to wait for a temporary card. When the line was long and her sons began to edge toward a meltdown, Bennett downloaded the Costco app on her phone, hoping she'd be able to log in and access her card there.
It was then that Bennett was approached by a man who she says mom-shamed her.
"You see these babies? They fuss like that because they want your attention. Maybe you should get off of your phone and give them your attention," he said to her, according to a post she wrote that’s gone viral on the Breastfeeding Mama Talk Facebook page.
Bennett was shocked.
"This is a humble brag, but I am so used to people interrupting me to comment on how cute the boys are," Bennett told TODAY Parents. "I was caught off guard and it took me a second to realize he was saying something ugly."
Bennett said that in the moment, she reacted defensively, showing him her phone and explaining she was trying to solve her problem and get her boys out of the line. After she arrived home, she wrote an open letter to the man, outlining the things she wished she had said to him.
"I ran out of tricks and my kids ran out of patience and now my goal was to just get us out of this line as quickly as possible before they released the kraken," Bennett wrote. "But thank you for your parenting advice. Thank you for taking the time out of your day to shame a young mother with two tiny children. Thank you for seeing a stressful moment and deciding, 'I think I’ll make this worse for her.'"
Bennett urged people to step back and consider what a mom is dealing with before making judgmental comments.
"Everyone, if you see a mother (or father) with young children out in public anywhere, assume she is stressed out," Bennett wrote. "Assume she is trying her damndest to get through the situation. Assume this is the very last place she wants to be. Assume she’d rather be home cuddling, playing, running around with her babies. Assume she probably has had no sleep since her first child was born. Assume she is hungry because her toddler decided he wanted extra eggs this morning so she gave him her breakfast in addition to his own. And if you have nothing kind or supportive to offer her, please mind your own business."
The mom of two finishes with this: "Our babies are healthy, our babies are happy (despite the fact that they are not currently pleased with standing in line at Costco), and our babies are loved fiercely by us. And for the love of God, our babies can wait two minutes while we try to solve a problem on your phone."
Unfortunately, Bennett's attempt to use the Costco app to access her card didn't work. But she did get a temporary card and finished the rest of her shopping without incident.
"The boys were actually really great that trip," said Bennett. "They snacked on plenty of samples and wanted to go in the cold section for a quick thrill, and the toddler got pizza when we were done."
Bennett has enjoyed reading the post's comments, where other parents have shared their own mom-shaming stories.
"It makes you feel supported and united," said Bennett. "Motherhood is hard and it takes a lot of people telling you that you're not ruining your children's lives and sharing their own hot messes for you to feel like you're doing OK. And, even outside motherhood, I don't understand why people want to tear each other down — what good comes from that?"